Leeds United 5 Huddersfield Town 1: McCormack wins derby honours with hat-trick

Leeds United v Huddersfield Town.
Leeds United v Huddersfield Town.
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A TRAUMATIC 24 hours for Leeds United ended with hat-trick hero Ross McCormack claiming the match ball and the smiles having returned to Elland Road.

The sacking of Brian McDermott the previous night by prospective new owner Massimo Cellino meant most of the home fans in a crowd of 31,502 had arrived ahead of kick-off in a state of bemusement.

Tales of how GFH Capital, the investment bank selling the club to the Italian, had tried - unsuccessfully - to entice McDermott back overnight merely added to the confusion felt around LS11.

Fears abounded among the home fans that, amid the chaos that had also claimed acting chief executive Paul Hunt and seen managing director David Haigh first quit and then return, Huddersfield Town would run amok in the derby contest.

For 40 or so minutes, that seemed a likely outcome as Town dominated the lacklustre hosts. However, with only a Danny Ward goal to show for their efforts, the visitors were always vulnerable and once Leeds - managed by Nigel Gibbs, McDermott’s assistant - had drawn level through mcCormack in first half stoppage time, there was only ever going to be one winner.

As impressive as the win was, however, Leeds still seem to have some difficult days in store as the Cellino takeover moves towards being finalised.

That will bring Gianluca Festa, McDermott’s successor-in-waiting, to the helm in a move that United fans made clear they do not want.

For now, however, those some supporters can bask in the glow of a wholly unexpected derby win that left Terriers manager Mark Robins fuming.

After the two teams had taken to the field to chants in support of McDermott, Leeds started brightly. They could have gone ahead when a wonderful one-two involving Jimmy Kebe and Ross McCormack on halfway saaw the Town defence opened up.

Rodolph Austin then rolled the ball to Cameron Stewart, who should have done better than curl his shot wide of the target.

McCormack was then put through by Luke Muprhy only to overhit his cross intended for Stewart and, after that, it was the visitors who took control.

Ward was the first to threaten following a one-two with Nahki Wells but Sam Byram got back superbly to block the intended shot.

Oliver Norwood then struck a post from 20 yards before Byram again did brilliantly to deny Ward, this time as the one-time United Academy graduate slid a pass across goal that would simply have asked Oscar Gobern to tap into an empty net.

It was a let-off for Leeds but Ward was not so generous next time, as his 25th minute shot arrowed beyond Paddy Kenny after the hosts had again been opened up down their right flank.

Before half-time, Wells had a golden chance to put Town two goals ahead but fluffed the opportunity and in the second minute of stoppage time McCormack made him pay by prodding in the equaliser.

Having been the subject of chants from the 2,620 away fans about how he “doesn’t want to play” for Leeds, the Scot predictably ran to the corner of Elland Road that houses the visiting hordes.

Five minutes after the restart, McCormack was celebrating again after providing the assist for Kebe to score his first Leeds goal.

As play raged from one end to the other, Wells fluffed an excellent chance to score when he mis-kicked with the goal at his mercy.

Ward then fired wide for Town following superb build-up play from Norwood and Tommy Smith down the right flank.

Once again, Leeds made the Terriers pay for their profligacy almost immediately courtesy of a sweeping break that saw Austin put Byram away down the right.

He then rolled the ball in for McCormack to tap in from close range.

The game effectively over, all that was left was for McCormack to grab his hat-trick. He duly did just that 17 ,minutes from time courtesy of another crisp finish after Huddersfield had been opened up by Stewart.